R.D. Blumenfeld on Drinking Ways. Part II.

Lager Takes a bow

It seems likely, as I forecast in Part I, that R.D. Blumenfeld appreciated good beer. R.D.B.’s Diary: 1887-1914, a memoir published by William Heinemann in 1930, bears this out.

R.D.B. is in Paris, it’s 1890. He happens upon a restaurant where Munich beer is consumed, noting this as unusual. He explains that 20 years after the ignominious defeat of 1870, Parisians generally sidestepped anything German, so this was exceptional.

Cultural manifestations such as Wagnerian opera were especially shunned. Still, he reveals that a contact in the city, evidently on request, informed him of a restaurant where true German beer could be had, although it was described as Viennese.

This suggests Blumenfeld had a predilection for “the real thing”. Having German-Jewish roots must have helped, seems a safe conclusion.

However, the best anecdote on beer in the book involves a story told him in New York in 1900 by Oscar Hammerstein I. Hammerstein was relating the successive uses of his (first) Manhattan Opera House, built 1893.*

Hammerstein told me yesterday of his Manhattan Opera House venture in 34th Street, New York, which began with opera, changed over to drama with Mrs. Bernard Beere in “As in a Looking Glass,” and ended as a music hall and drinking place. “First,” he said, “it was Meyerbeer. No good. Then it was Bernard Beere. Also no good. Now it is Lager Beer. Great success!”


*Hammerstein I built many theatres in New York, but only two were named Manhattan Opera House.

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